SCRIPTURES: Joshua 13-15 Luke 10: 25-42
In one of my recent blogs, I reported on the health of my father-in-law. At
nearly ninety-seven years of age, we were concerned that double pneumonia might cost him his life. God’s mercy and with the loving care that he has received from his wife and family, I am glad to report that he is doing quite well. I phoned him the other day. His pastor answered the cell phone, which gave me a little concern. When I asked concerning Dad’s health, he said “ I am with him in his boat. He just landed his third catfish.” That was all that I needed to hear.
In today’s Old Testament reading we hear from another elderly man. Sample the spirit of Caleb as we find him in Joshua 14: 10-12. “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. NOW GIVE ME THIS HILL COUNTRY THAT THE LORD PROMISED ME THAT DAY. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
When Israel reached the outskirts of the Promised Land, Moses sent twelve spies to survey the land of Canaan. Of the twelve who returned to report on the promised land, only two issued a positive report. Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb from Judah became renowned for reporting that Israel was well able to seize their future in the Land that God had promised them. The negativity of the ten remaining spies caused them not to enter the land. For forty years they wandered in the desert. When the occupation came, the only two adult Israelites to enter were Joshua and Caleb.
E.M. Bounds in one of his books said, “We don’t need better programs, we need better men.” Caleb meets the criteria of being a better man. His tenacious faith caused him to adhere to the promise of God for a long life and a good inheritance. “Now then, Just as the Lord had promised…”
In every place that I have ever served, whether in the local church or on some mission outpost, there has been one constant–men and women who have found the Grace and faith to claim mountains.
Through the long history of the church where I am now privileged to serve, there are people who have been constant in their belief in the mission of the church. Folks who are now in their eighties and nineties still find their place of worship on Sunday mornings. Changes in the culture, church music styles which have transitioned to a much more contemporary sound, leaders who have come and gone, have not deterred them from faithfulness to Christ and His Church. I have noticed that those who are now in their eighth and ninth decades of life have retained a robust hopefulness that makes them a joy to serve.
I am aware as I write these words this early morning, that this is Good Friday. At noon I will join others in the faith community to remember the crucifixion of Jesus. I could spend the rest of my writing this morning mentioning great men and women who climbed mountains by faith.
The man whose death we remember today has no rival. Unflinchingly, Jesus faced the task that was given him and completed it at the cost of His life. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God”. (He. 11:6)
So what about you and me. We all face challenges of one kind or another. Standing among the great men and women of history and of the Bible, we are provided strength for our journey.
By the time you read these remarks you will have celebrated Easter with hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. The empty tomb reminds us that that with Resurrection power we can face and conquer all that life presents us.